Can I still receive communion after divorce?

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Q. I am in my 50s and have now been divorced for three years. I was married in the Catholic Church and have always attended Sunday Mass regularly and received Communion. But I have begun to wonder whether I should still take Communion. 

I asked a priest recently in confession, and he said that it was OK, but I still feel unsure about it. Also, I have kept my marriage vows so far; but if I were to become involved with someone else, would it still be OK to go to Communion? (Kentucky)

A. Yes, in your present situation you may continue to receive the Eucharist. Many people are under the misimpression that a divorce by itself separates a person from membership in the Catholic Church and disqualifies that person from receiving holy Communion. That is not so; sometimes the end of a marriage can occur with little or no fault on the part of at least one of the spouses. 

And since you have been to the sacrament of penance, I am going to assume that you've already confessed whatever may have been your own responsibility for the breakup. However, it's your last sentence that troubles me. 

Your divorce does not prohibit you from friendships with women or female companionship. But if you were to become involved sexually with someone to whom you were not married in the church, you would not, of course, be eligible to receive the Eucharist because, in the church's eyes, you would be living in the state of serious sin. 

(If you are considering a new romantic relationship, why not see a priest and look into the possibility of an annulment from your first marriage so that the way would be clear — if you decided — to marry that person with the church's approval?)  

Questions may be sent to Fr. Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018